The Goleta City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to support a proposal from the Goleta Valley Community Center organization to repurpose tennis courts at the center as permanent pickleball courts.

The current tennis and basketball courts at the community center were built in 1994, but activity on the courts has decreased significantly in the past 10 to 15 years, according to Parks and Recreation Manager JoAnn Plummer, who presented the item.

“In the last 10 to 15 years, the activity on the tennis court significantly decreased with use limited to an occasional pickup basketball game and a softball coach using the fenced-in area of the tennis court for pitching practice,” Plummer said. “In 2019, the Goleta Valley Community Center was approached by a resident to create a temporary pickleball court on the existing basketball court, which was well-received by the community.”

The popularity of pickleball increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as the need for outdoor activities increased, and a group started a pilot program to fund four temporary pickleball courts on the existing tennis courts and to maintain the temporary pickleball court on the basketball court.

The group now wants to convert the current tennis courts into permanent pickleball courts.

The proposal first came to the Goleta City Council during the Jan. 18 meeting, during which council members expressed some concerns, particularly in ensuring access for everyone, the cost to users, and noise.

City staff returned Tuesday to address those concerns and presented solutions to which the Goleta Valley Community Center had agreed.

In order to ensure access for all, promotional banners and signs will be created to promote open play opportunities, free monthly beginner workshops, and information on how to get involved or reserve courts. These signs and banners will be in both English and Spanish.

During the pilot program, users paid $60 memberships to reserve and use the pickleball courts. However, the City Council expressed that they believed community members should be able to use the courts without being charged.

To address that, more open play times will be available for all skill levels and with no fees.

The open play times will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays through Sundays and from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Additionally, a reservation system will be available to everyone in order to reserve courts at other times with an optional $2 donation.

The membership still will be available to players who are interested in further information on pickleball. With the membership, players will be sent information on classes, workshops, leagues and tournaments at pickleball courts throughout the tri-county area. The membership fees will remain at $60 per year, but scholarships will be made available to those who interested and require assistance.

The membership fees will go back into the community center courts, helping to subsidize costs such as portable restrooms, lighting costs, marketing and administrative costs.

The final element that was addressed by city staff was noise concerns, as the Goleta Valley Community Center has received noise complaints in the past relating to the sounds of the balls bouncing on the court and the balls hitting the paddles.

Some solutions include the resurfacing of the courts, installing thicker windscreen material on the south fence, and recommending that players use paddles and balls from a posted approved list.

All of that constitutes tier 1 of addressing noise concerns. If they are not successful after three months, tier 2 involves the installation of used quilted fiberglass absorber panels to further reduce noise.

“I think what we have in front of us now is an effective compromise,” Councilman James Kyriaco said. “The community center board, who I think should be applauded, have really demonstrated to me that they listen to the community, that they listen to council, and they’re implementing something here in partnership with the city that is going to be accessible, that’s going to be equitable, and it’s going to be a joyful way for our residents and visitors to spend their time.”

The total cost of the improvements is about $39,000. The Goleta Valley Community Center will be funding the upgrades at no cost to the city.

“We certainly need more kinds of recreational activities and opportunities in the city, and I think this really goes far,” Councilman Kyle Richards said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who really appreciate this and what it means to them.”

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Serena Guentz, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com.